I’m finding it a bit difficult to continue on to the next chapter that follows the scene in the basement I wrote about previously.  Therefore, I thought I’d write today about a memory that still makes me crack up.  Although parts of it are violent, don’t feel guilty about laughing as the details emerge.  It’s a long story, but you have to read it!  It is just too good to pass up!

Both my mother and father were meticulous and a big part of their facade to the world was how clean and orderly their house was.  This meant that the house had to be spotless, even with 9 kids running around.  Every day of the week, we had ridiculous chores to do.  I say ‘ridiculous’ for a reason.

On Saturdays, my chores were: emptying the kitchen cabinets, cleaning them out, then re-stocking them; totally emptying the refrigerator and cleaning it out; tearing the stove and oven apart and cleaning it; and the list went on to include windows, floors, etc.  This was EVERY week, and the windows and floors were done twice a week.  After I finished the kitchen, which took hours, I then had to go down to the basement and clean it.

One of the basement rooms was called “the furnace room.”  Obviously, it was the room with the furnace in it.  But, it also contained pantry shelves along two of the walls, top to bottom.  All of the lower shelves had food and other groceries on them that mom would buy in bulk for such a large family.  The top shelf was used for storage of various items.

Every Saturday, I had to clean the pantry shelves off.  This involved wiping the shelves down and organizing the products, making sure they were lined up into nice, perfect rows.  However, I only had to dust the top shelf.

One day while dusting that top shelf (I was around 17 years old), I noticed a shoebox on the shelf that I hadn’t seen before.  We never stored shoes there, so the box stuck out like a sore thumb.  I just thought it was odd.  Then, several weeks later, curiosity got the best of me.  I reached up and grabbed the shoebox to peak inside.

I think I was expecting to either see a new pair of shoes mom was hiding, or perhaps dad was just using an old shoe box to store electrical cords or other surplus.

After looking around the room to make sure no one else was nearby, I slowly began taking the lid off, as if some hidden thing was going to pop out at me.  Finally, the lid came off and WHAT????  What the heck was this????

There before me was a shoebox completely filled with pink plastic tampon applicators!  USED — then cleaned — tampon applicators!!  What the hay??!!  I about dropped the entire box!  What kind of sickos do we have running around this joint?!!  Well, actually, I already knew we had plenty of sickos in our family, but this just kind of took it to another level!  I mean, who would dig used, bloody tampons out of the trash, clean them up, then collect them??!  A whole shoebox full!!  And, did I mention that in my family we all have big feet?!  Holy Cow!

Now, just in case you don’t know what a tampon applicator looks like, at least the kind we used back in the day, here is what we are talking about:


Imagine a whole shoebox full, only these were pink and the cords were missing, LOL.  I guess if you don’t know why the cords were no longer present, you need to ask a woman to explain.

After the initial shock wore off a little, I went upstairs and asked my sister (who was 2 years younger than me) if she knew anything about this mysterious shoebox.  She had no clue what I was talking about.  I took her back downstairs and showed her the “collection.”  She had the same reaction that I did. “What sicko would do something like this?!”

I decided to take the box OUTSIDE and put it in the trash out there.  Obviously, the person collecting these things would just find them again if I put them back into a trash can inside the house!  I still can’t get over the image in my head of someone digging through the bathroom trash cans, finding bloody tampons, cleaning them off, and collecting them!  Sick!

Fast forward a few days.  My sister and I were doing the dishes after supper.  My dad had gone outside to work in the yard, at least that’s what we thought.  When I had placed the shoebox into the outside trash can, I had completely forgotten about a bad habit my dad has.  The night before the trash pick-up was to take place, my dad would dig through the trash to make sure us kids didn’t throw anything away that we shouldn’t have.  Yes, that’s another whole topic for another post.

So, here we are doing dishes when my dad storms into the kitchen … carrying an open shoebox … yelling, “What the hell is this?!”  My sister and I took one look at the box and began to roar in laughter.  You seriously mean my dad, the father of 9 children, six of them girls, didn’t know what a tampon was yet???!

About that time, my youngest brother (age 8) comes running from the living room to see what the commotion was about.  Immediately he began screaming and crying, “Who threw my collection away?  That’s mine, that’s mine!”   Without hesitation, my dad took one look at me (I was still laughing) and backhanded me hard across the face yelling, “So it was you?  What gives you the right to throw someone else’s things away?!”  I didn’t know how to tell him that actually, they WERE mine to begin with (at least part of them, LOL)!

You would think that I would have started crying after that initial blow to my face, but all I could do was laugh.  How crazy is this family????  Dad then took his hand and started whacking me in the head yelling, “You son-of-a-bitch!  I’ll give you something to laugh about!”  My sister just stood there and watched, probably thankful she wasn’t the one getting it.  But, again, all it took was for me to make eye contact with her before the laughter erupted once more.

Dad was furious.  I couldn’t get a word in edge-wise.  Whenever I tried to explain, he’d hit me again before I was even able to get a sentence out.  He just kept beating me until he was sure my laughter would turn into sobs.  Finally, he took his belt off and began swinging it like a baseball bat against my back and legs.  I ended up on the kitchen floor, holding my arms over my head trying to protect my face.  He just kept swinging away … and I began crying.  He won.  At least for a moment.

Lying on the floor, I looked up and watched as dad handed the shoebox to my brother.  Then, dad hesitated, grabbed a tampon applicator and held it high into the air and began looking through the hollow plunger-end of the applicator.  Looking at my brother, he then asked him, “What the hell are these?!”  I knew not to look at my sister because I really didn’t want to start laughing again.

BUT … before my brother could answer, dad then put one end of the tampon applicator into his mouth and began blowing in it, trying to produce a sound from his new-found HORN!  I know my face must have been purple by this point, trying to hold back my laughter.  But, I couldn’t!!  Almost in unison, my sister and I began emitting a mixture of screeches and uncontrollable laughter.  I knew another beating was coming.

BUT … I was wrong.  Just when I feared I was about to pay the price for laughing again, dad puts the tampon back into his mouth, blows and blows and finally produces a sound!! Yep, he did.  I don’t know how, but he did!  Then, to top it off, with one end remaining in his mouth he began to slide the plunger back and forth to try and change the pitch.  OH MY, OH MY, OH MY!!!  I about died laughing and began rolling on the floor, slapping my hand against the linoleum tiles.  This was just too much!!

It was at that moment that dad must have had a light-bulb revelation.  Without saying a word, he yanked the applicator out of his mouth and threw it back into the shoebox, pulling the shoebox away from my little brother at the same time.  As my brother began to cry, dad told him, “these belong in the trash.”  I was still on the kitchen floor when dad walked back outside, shoebox in hand, exclaiming, “Well, I’ll be a dirty son-of-a-bitch!”

Dad never did apologize.  But, I believe God had the last word that day.


God certainly works in mysterious ways!  This week I was attending a bible study on the Book of Revelation by Beth Moore entitled Here and Now … There and Then.  If you have never been part of a bible study by Beth Moore, I highly recommend her study series.  She is humorous, to the point, and is very well in tune with what scripture says.

We had just finished watching one of Beth’s DVDs for this study of which the concluding message was, “You cannot love God and despise people at the same time.”  My first thought was, “Really?  Doesn’t God want us to hate the ways of this world?”  But, I guess, hating worldly ways is vastly different than feeling contempt for people themselves.  Still, I must admit that I find it a whole lot more comfortable to isolate myself from people rather than take the risk of being deceived, manipulated, and/or judged … and yes, there are people I despise.  Well, perhaps “despise” is a bit too harsh.  Let’s put it this way, I’d rather have a root canal than be around certain people.

Continue Reading »

As I set the stage for future posts, let me introduce you to one of my childhood pride and joys:  my blue Schwinn, ‘Fairlady’ Sting-Ray bicycle!

Actually, my parents didn’t take many pictures at all while I was growing up so I had to search the net to find one just like it.  I can’t believe I found one!

I vividly remember the day I got her, although the year escapes me.  It was either in the second or third grade.

My younger sister and I have birthdays in May and my parents surprised us one Sunday afternoon by telling us to go and check out what was in the driveway.  There they were.  Two of them!  Our very first bicycles … AND they were Sting-Rays to boot!!  We were speechless.  Not only did we seldom get new toys but now we had the coolest thing every flower-power child dreamed of!

Adding to the thrill of it all was the fact that both mom and dad were out there, in the driveway, actually enjoying the moment with us.  I think they were almost as excited as we were!  I don’t EVER recall that happening before then, and I certainly don’t remember it happening much after that.  Playing with their children was not part of their nature, much less doing it at the same time.  Feeling special and seeing them having fun was almost better than the Sting-Rays themselves.  Well, almost.

Thank goodness that our bikes came with training wheels.  Like I said, neither one of us knew how to ride a bike.  Up to this point, we only had ‘experience’ with two other bikes:

My oldest brother’s Roadmaster (which was too big for our feet to hit the pedals), roadmaster
and my older sisters’ (or grandma’s or great-grandma’s!) granny bike. bike1937
(Pictures from RatRodBikes)

You’ll have to add imaginary coats of authentic rust to the granny bike pictured above in order to get the full effect.  It weighed a ton and had huge tires that never went flat.  No inner tubes in that hunker!  Regardless, neither one of my older sisters would ride it unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.  Thank goodness it was too big for us younger ones!

Eventually, my sister and I mastered the art of riding a bike and the training wheels came off our Sting-Rays.  I hate to admit it, but my little sister figured it out before I did.  It took years to live that one down!

Oh, one last thought:  Never teach a young girl how to ride a bike on one that has banana seats.  Girls know what I am talking about.  Perhaps boys do too.

Now, pedal on … even if you still need your training wheels.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard, “Let it go.  It’s all in the past” or “Why do you want to dig all that up again?”  Some well-meaning Christian friends and family have often told me that the Bible states that you should forget the past, referring to Philippians 3:13:

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (NIV)

Unfortunately, this sentiment is neither practical nor biblical.  Don’t we all wish that we could change some of the more painful parts of our pasts?  Wouldn’t it be great if we could just forget, as if it had never taken place to begin with?  The truth is, however, we can’t.

I don’t know of one victim of abuse that enjoys the memories, the pain, or the many ways those events have negatively impacted their adult lives.  “Forgetting” is not a choice.  When was the last time you tried to intentionally forget something?  Did it work?  Sure, we can stuff it down and put a veil over it whenever it reappears, or pretend it’s not there, but it’s still there whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not.

What I went through as a child has impacted almost every aspect of my adult life.  The dreams I had as a little girl … getting married, having children, raising a family, having a good career, etc. … were affected.  Low self-esteem, depression, panic attacks, and isolation have haunted me for most of my life.  My spirituality was severely affected … How can you trust a God that allowed all of that to happen? Repeatedly?

Perhaps when society as a whole tells us, “It’s all in the past,” they are really trying to protect themselves.  Who wants to hear the pain?  Who wants to believe how much of this stuff goes on right under our own noses?  It’s easier to pretend, to turn a deaf ear, and to blame the victim for “not getting over it.”

The past is part of who we are.  It molded us.  Yes, we can change, but to deny it isn’t good for the individual nor is it good for society.  I often wonder if the current epidemic of child abuse would be as bad if society was just willing to LISTEN.  Why is it so taboo to talk about such things, especially when it involves our precious defenseless children?!

Regarding Phil. 3-13, Paul was not insinuating that we should or even that we could forget our pasts.  This passage must be read in its full context.  He, in part, was referring to his past accomplishments and that he refused to let pride get in the way of the goal that God had planned for him.

God created our memories for a purpose.  We are to learn from our pasts.  It’s only by looking at the past that we can correct any misbeliefs we may have picked up along the way.  We should not, however, use the past to keep us from pressing on towards the goal for which He has called us.

Bottom line: We are who we are because of our pasts.  Now, how can we use it to better ourselves and to fulfill the purpose we were put on this earth for?

Don’t put a period where God has placed a comma.  Keep pedaling on!